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Egypt: Lawsuits Greet Bassem Youssef's Long-Awaited Al Bernameg

A number of lawsuits have greeted Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef's Al Bernameg [The Programme] third season which has just kicked off.
This was the most anticipated media and social event in Egypt and probably the Middle East.

Last year, around 30 million viewers across the Arab World watched the one-time heart surgeon's satirical show. It seems that in Egypt at least, this hasn't changed, as Ramez Youssef points out:

مصر كلها قاعدة نفس القعدة بظبط دلوقتي !!

All of Egypt is sitting in the exact same way right now [watching the show]!!

Viewers were kept on their toes, with an 18-minute advertising slot before the show, which ignited their anger and sarcasm:

Viewers were wondering if the show would still keep its sarcastic edge after the recent political events and the change in power that shook Egypt. Would Youssef bring balance to the current media, all of which is overwhelmingly pro-Army and nationalistic? From a formal point of view, the show remained the same with it's classic recipe of video clips from Egyptian TV, sarcastic commentary often fueled with sexual innuendos, and Broadway-like songs on stage. Many would speculate if Al Bernameg would have a go at Egypt's current strongman, Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, and Minister of Defence, General Abdelfattah Al Sisi as it used to do with former president Mohammed Mosri last season.

After the 70-minute show ended, reactions were very mixed which goes to show how divided and the political scene is. Dr Saif AbdelFattah pointed out that laughing on the wounds of Egyptians wasn't the right thing to do:

To laugh on a wounded, to make fun of a prisoner, to scorn a martyr, to repeat the government lies, and to defame a symbol of freedom (Rabaa) in a disgusting manner… those aren't gentlemen ways

Nadia Al Magd says pretty much the same thing pointing out that the sarcasm missed the point:

Sarcasm towards the victims (thousands of them) and not on the perpetrators, among other things, isn't very elegant

Some notice, with much regret, that the programme's tone was harsher during Morsi days:

As Mohamed El Dahshan pointed out:

Bassem pokes fun at Sisi fans and not directly at Sisi, which is smart. But the truth be said, unfortunately, the show has lost some of its freedom and edge

Others seemed quite satisfied with this first episode and tried to put things in perspective:

The last category of commentators, which seems to be the largest by far, are the pro-Army and pro-Sisi netizens, who seemed very offended by the sexual innuendos and the lack of respect that Youssef allegedly showed towards the Egyptian army and its head. Several groups have decided to attack the presenter's attempt to “defame and insulting minister of defense Abdel Fatah El Sisi.”

This pro-Sisi Facebook page vows to stop Youssef's programme. The caption reads: "We will not allow you to cross the line with Egypt's national symbols."

This pro-Sisi Facebook page vows to stop Youssef's programme. The caption reads: “We will not allow you to cross the line with Egypt's national symbols.”

A pro-Sisi Facebook group has vowed to silence Youssef:

The poster above reads:

We will never allow this vulgar and failed clown to mock the symbols of the Egyptian nation you son of a ****

Also, the legal adviser of the Muslim Brotherhood youth branch, has also decided to file a complaint:

The legal adviser of the Muslim Brotherhood youth branch has filed a lawsuit against Bassem Youssef

And the lawsuits came piling in:

Mohamed Fathy points out that copies of those complaints have reached Egyptian TV channels only 10 minutes after the show ended:

For your information, the copy of first lawsuit against Bassem Youssef arrived at a number of media outlets only 10 minutes after the end of the episode. This means that they were prepared beforehand

In order to face such an uproar, CBC, the channel that hosts Bassem Youssef's show, has decided to react and issue a public statement saying:

“CBS has followed the public reaction to yesterday's episode of Al Bernameg presented by Dr Bassem Youssef. Most of those reactions were offended by what they saw during the episode. CBS asserts its will to defend the national feelings and pride and will make sure that no offensive expressions or sketches that could disrespect the feelings of the Egyptian people or the symbols of the Egyptian state, will be aired. The channel also affirrms its dedication to complete freedom of expression and information and it's full support to the Egyptian revolution and it's goals”

Apparently this was not “just an episode in some show,” as Youssef himself twitted at the end of the episode:

This wasn't an episode in a show

In another tweet he adds:

The country cannot take sarcasm now. This was said last night, and a year ago and two years ago, in addition to all the insults and accusations of treachery

It's obvious that Youssef plans to continue dishing out his weekly satire to Egyptians and the Arab world. How ready is Egypt for this latest round?

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